While business jet, or charter flight, operators see a surge in demand for travel to India after the country allowed tourist visas for people travelling on private jets, airlines on the India-US route have registered an increase in bookings after Washington relaxed rules for vaccinated passengers.
India started allowing tourist visas for people flying in private jets from October 15. For travellers coming in commercial flights, this will start a month later.
“People have started reaching out to us for a 15-20-day trip to India, mostly to places like Goa, Rajasthan & Mumbai for leisure. The number is sure to increase shortly. With this reopening, we are expecting at least a 30% increase in the number of bookings by the year-end from foreign tourists, considering the festivities and New Year celebrations around the corner,” said Kanika Tekriwal, founder of JetSetGo, a private jet operator.
“As of now, only people from the US and Switzerland have reached out to us to fly to places like Goa, Mumbai & Rajasthan,” she added.
With the relaxation of rules for tourist visas, companies expect charters from countries like the UK, Russia, Poland and Scandinavia to come during December.
“The main UK charter flights will operate only from December 15. The Russian charters too will not operate till December. The inbound charters are mainly from the UK, Russia and Scandinavia, and Goa is the only destination that charters fly into,” said Dipak Deva, managing director at Travel Corporation of India, which manages charters from these countries.
Meanwhile, foreign carriers on the India-US routes are registering an increase in bookings after the US relaxed entry rules for vaccinated passengers.
US-based United said its bookings have overtaken 2019 numbers. “In the days immediately after the US announced it would reopen to international travel, United’s trans-Atlantic bookings for November and beyond exceeded 2019 levels for the first time since the start of the pandemic,” the airline said in an emailed statement.
Air India, which is the largest operator to the US among Indian carriers, also said bookings were high on this route.
“Air India, in general, has a heavy demand on the non-stop US sectors,” the airline said in an emailed statement. Airline industry insiders predict a huge rebound for aviation and travel companies, if there is no third wave of the pandemic.